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Friday, April 20, 2012

Is the Constitution Really About Our Liberty?

I've spent a lot of time thinking about the state we are in as people in what was once a free country.

I know that there is a growing cry for our government to be placed back into the chains of the Constitution, to rein in that beast in Washington which has run afoul of the law and grown into what is more and more accepted as a tyrannical police state. These cries are perfectly justified; there is certainly hypocrisy in a nation proclaiming itself as “the leader of the free world” and lambasting other countries for their abuses of human liberties, while at the same time constantly if incrementally clamping down on those same liberties within its own borders.

While these sentiments are welcomed and long overdue, the question needs to be pursued – is the Constitution really that bulwark of freedom we think it is, or was it merely a Trojan Horse for power-grabbing elites? It's definitely not a pleasant thought to consider, and even more uncomfortable to accept.

Before I continue, I'll just say this is exclusively my take on it. I want to do something with more meat to it, but for now I'm giving some background and some things to consider. Take this for what it is – an opinion piece.

Before the American Revolution ended, the thirteen colonies had met to draft a document to serve as the form of government for themselves. They did not want to revive British Parliamentary rule, and did want want a possibility of another tyranny replacing the one they just cast off. What they came up with was a form of government that was centrally very weak; most of the real power was with the individual states, and the central government was more of a formality for larger issues. Those who fought for freedom rightly had a healthy mistrust of centralized power, and this showed in the formation of a confederacy. This central government had very little power to do anything. They could not use force to collect taxes. There was no standing army (which was a very serious concern and one of the main reasons the colonies went to war with England). The Articles themselves had to be agreed to unanimously. No majority – EVERYONE had to agree to it. This was not a compulsory situation – but rather a voluntary one. The thirteen colonies were considered sovereign states, free to make their own decisions as they saw fit. The central government provided for diplomacy and did help to a degree conduct the American Revolution.

But if you read the conventional history, this was a dark and terrible period, because there was no powerful central government there to get everyone together. This sentiment and fear-mongering was brought up in many of the Federalist Papers. The problem, Hamilton and company said, was that the government needed “just a little more power” to get things right.

Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Every time there's a problem in America now, the calls are always to give the government “just a little more power” to solve the problem.

Put two and two together and you can see that the Constitution was merely the foot in the door needed to start consolidating power in a central government, power that came away from the States and into the hands of a small group not attached to or concerned with the people. Amendments to the Constitution, while on paper are supposed to guarantee rights to the people, are used instead more to give the government more power.

The central government under the Articles of Confederation had very little power to make laws at all. The government we have now passes laws in such numbers and in so much complicated legalese that no human could ever dare to comprehend the laws passed in just one session of Congress in their entire lifetime. Is this what we need from government? Is that what those brave men who died to break free from England wanted? Are we supposed to be free people, able to live our lives as we see fit, or are we merely civilians in a state that takes a third or more of what we work for, without our consent, under threat of force? Are we free when we are told what we can and can noy consume? Are we free when we are under surveillance constantly? Are we free when we need permission to drive a car, or to leave the borders of this land? Are we free when we have to pay taxes on property we supposedly own?

No, we are not free. And to a large degree, we can trace this loss of freedom back to the original grab for “just a little more power”, the Constitutional Convention. Note that one of the key planks of the Articles was that the Articles are perpetual, and can only be altered by approval of Congress with ratification by all the state legislatures. The Constitutional Convention was initially brought about to merely amend the Articles, not to scrap them and replace them. Something else to consider, isn't it?

I will write more as I continue researching and reading. I would of course encourage you to do likewise. Arming yourself with information is the best weapon you can have.

2 comments:

  1. Well written Frank, feel free to use anything I have written, and I will gladly send a copy of the literature I have directly related to this, copies of letters/essays in the "founders hands"

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  2. Jesse, I welcome any materials you have. You know where to send them. :)

    ReplyDelete